“the dark side of the moon”, dos, include sai please?

So my brain first went to Infinite Tsukuyomi because that’s how I filled the last “dark side of the moon” prompt I received but that’s not really sustainable for a full fic summary, so…

I know there are already a lot of amazing ROOT!Shikako fics which have gone in varying, fascinating directions, but I think that’s what would best match this prompt title. And also because the request for Sai and there’s only so many options that gives me. Aaand as a title it’s a nice foil to Dreaming of Sunshine, even though usually I thematically link Moon to Sasuke.

Which might be part of it, too?

(By the way, I don’t know if I’m rehashing someone else’s ideas but if I am, sorry…)

So Shikako tries to interfere with the Uchiha Massacre (by befriending Itachi?) and ends up in Danzo’s clutches. But maybe not a full time thing–I’m still pretty sure that Yamanaka Fuu had to be trained in the clan mind jutsu, so he couldn’t be completely disappeared off to the bowels of Konoha like with Torune and the many orphans–so she still gets to go home and learn shadow jutsu and despair about all the secrets she’s keeping from her family 🙂

Which gives an interesting twist on her determination to learn fuinjutsu if she’s got the secrecy seal on her tongue (… maybe not somewhere so obvious, but the idea applies).

Sai would act as her ROOT partner/handler (while she secretly acts as Itachi’s Konoha contact/handler?) and when the canon time for Academy graduation comes around, she’s still put on a genin team with Naruto and Sasuke as per canon but maybe she goes on more dangerous with Sai on nights after D-ranks with Team Seven?

Hrm… nah, I’m not liking that too much. There’s too many wheels and it’s not really feasible.

Sai is definitely still Shikako’s ROOT partner/handler (after they both killed off their respective training partners?) and I do think she’s only a part time ROOT member–in that, she’s still part of the Nara clan–but maybe she was ordered to flunk out of the Academy “because of chakra hypersensitivity” or Danzo used his influence to put her on Team One and have them failed? Yeah, having her on Team Seven AND a ROOT member would be way too much to juggle.

And any connection with Itachi would be minor or for much later in the fic. Maybe Itachi remembers the little girl who tried to help him, or maybe he doesn’t, but he definitely finds it suspicious that she’s one of Danzo’s agents so…

I wonder if Danzo tries to train her as a higher functioning agent–possibly his successor, if he were a smidge less delusional–and so her “surface” job is his assistant or something like that. And, well, even if he doesn’t want her as his philosophical successor, then having one of the two possible candidates for Jounin Commander in his pocket is a pretty smart idea.

Yeah, just a lot of precarious maneuvering as a secret ROOT member, trying to build up enough hard evidence to take out Danzo and making sure Sai doesn’t get punished for her own overreaches (Danzo normally isn’t one for whipping boys since that requires emotional attachment on one side, at least, but in this case it’s highly effective). The good news is, Sai probably begins his journey to emotional development and mental liberation much earlier. The bad news is, neither of them get to express that while under Danzo’s command for obvious reasons. So it’s just both of them mentally suffering, but at least they suffer together?

the dark side of the moon

Secrets and silence and synchronous rotations.

Shikako and Sai dance to someone else’s tune and try to stay alive the whole way through.

Oh, and help save the world–that’s important, too.

I really love them just BroTP’ing it up, but since everything ends in shipping… what’s your opinion on Shikako/Kankurou?

jacksgreysays:

(Sorry this took so long, anon, I saw your ask and then spent the entire day at work pondering it and now there’s a huge rant so… enjoy?)

I’m most fond of them BroTP’ing it up as well, anon. Their dynamic is very… hm… buddy cop? Well, no, it’s more like…

I don’t know, anon. Whatever their dynamic is I love it as is, and while I prefer platonic friendship to romance I guess the thought experiment of a ship would be interesting to do, so let’s go?

Shikako/Kankurou as a ship outside of setting or potential fic brainstorming, I think…

For some reason my thought process goes like:

Wouldn’t a Shikako/Kankurou ship just be like the Shikako/Kiba ship (pre-Land of the Moon arc)?

NO!

Why not?

Well…

On the surface, I suppose the Shikako and Kankurou dynamic and the Shikako and Kiba dynamic do look pretty similar. There’s witty banter and respectful acknowledgement of badassery tempered with mutual teasing… but it’s the difference between someone seeing a heretofore unseen side of a childhood friend versus learning a new acquaintance without any prior bias.

I feel like Land of the Moon and Lost Child arcs really convey this. Like, Kiba is not only surprised but almost perturbed by Shikako’s more recent actions. They legit have a philosophical discussion about what the right thing to do is and you can almost feel the way Kiba has to revise his opinions of Shikako. No longer is she the girl who was the tree for their school play, now she’s the girl who will single-handedly reverse a coup.

Whereas, if Kankurou were to witness the same thing he wouldn’t find it strange at all. That’s just part of who she is, as far as he’s concerned. If anything, that would add to what he knows about her, might even help explain some her idiosyncrasies. Like. All powerful shinobi have quirks and while no doubt Shikako tries to embody polite normal Konoha girl, I’m pretty sure everyone who talks to her more than once realizes how weird she is–and I say this in the kindest, fondest way possible–that girl is a weirdo.

Knowing what Shikako’s oh shit/fuck you button is is probably a huge relief to Kankurou because he knows it exists–she blew off a guy’s head!–and at least it’s something that he can avoid. Contrast with Kiba who, having grown up knowing her as Shikamaru’s shy sister, probably never even thought she’d have one.

Anyway. That’s my instinctive answer to that.

Thinking more on it, especially on Shikako’s end, I do think she appreciates that non-expectant aspect of their relationship. She doesn’t have to censor herself around Kankurou, weirdly enough. With fellow Konohans, they’ve known her forever; she’s always been around to help them and be a listening ear (it’s one of the many reasons she’s been so stressed lately) and it’s something she feels obligated to maintain.

Even with Gaara she feels obligated to generate an aura of compassion, as a sort of teach by example thing, while with Temari she thinks she needs to maintain that position of strength she established early on.

Kankurou? She can be snarky. She can have stage fright. When she tries to play the polite professional, he snorts and prods at her to just be herself. Yeah, he’ll challenge her to a theater battle, but he’ll be the first one to clap for her. Challenger and hype man both, constantly and simultaneously impressed and amused and I think there’s something comfortable yet exciting about a relationship like that.

Now as for how I would write a Shikako/Kankurou ship? Hm… in a canon DoS setting this would be another one of those that happens post canon events. There are only a few ships that I can see even possibly happening pre-canon (Gaara, Sasuke, Kiba, Ino) but even those would have to be carefully guided and cultivated toward that.

Erm, so yeah. Shikako/Kankurou would be post-canon events. It’d probably be… for some reason, my brain thinks it should NOT just be a tweaked version of Dreaming of S(omething). I think I’d want to do more of a… the semi-canon AU in which Shikako accidentally becomes a TV star

(… oh snap, is this what you were referring to when you meant The Arts, anon? My bad…)

Well, basically, it’s while she’s doing research on the ruins of the Gelel shrine except with less Indiana Jones style shenanigans? I just want it to be like she’s on a sabbatical in Sand and Kankurou is playing tour guide and he’s helping her through her PTSD and what-do-I-do-now-that-my-life-goal-to-survive-Akatsuki-has-been-completed quarter life crisis but he’s doing so either unintentionally or, more likely, purposefully but subtly.

They both kind of explore who they are outside of being shinobi–he’s a huge Theater Nerd and she’s a huge Regular Nerd and they tease each other for it but they also accept each other and it’s fun and relaxing. (I’m having feels over the idea of these teenaged walking weapons of mass destruction striving to be well adjusted human beings.)

In a more definitively AU setting?

… OH! A Parks & Rec AU where Konoha people are the Department of Parks and Recreation and Suna people are a different department in the same ambiguously massive city. Maybe they’re something like the Department of Cultural Affairs?

Anyway, that means Konoha are all still tree-huggers as per canon, and there’s a bit of competition between the two groups, but there’s also future collaborations (open air theaters anyone? The equivalent of Shakespeare in the Park?) And that means the other villages can also be mentioned and hated other departments. (WHICH VILLAGE IS THE DMV?)

Kakashi as Ron Swanson who doesn’t do any work because authority is there to laugh at not respect. Shikako as Leslie Knope who only sleeps three hours a day because she has SO MANY PROJECT IDEAS. Ino as Donna Meagle who runs a far more profitable real estate agency but still works in the department to hang out with her friends. Um, I can’t think of the others right now but it’s not like it has to be a one to one swapping crossover anyway.

At first their departments are antagonistic–fighting over budget, stealing each other’s supply of paper clips, the ongoing war to prank the other department which PISSES THE CUSTODIANS OFF SO MUCH. And then they begin to work together–tentative collaboration on cultural events held in parks, etc–and then that becomes alliance against the other departments, etc. etc.

I suppose this AU setting doesn’t necessarily need to be Shikako/Kankurou, but I do think that this AU would fit that particular ship quite well 😀

*gasp* HE WOULD BE THE DMV. -_-

And all those poor ROOT members can’t even comprehend the idea of having fun. At work? Or having friends. AT WORK? They don’t have names, just numbers corresponding to their windows. T_T

Sai gets forcibly adopted into the Parks & Rec Department.

Aaahhh!! So that’s what was happening, stupid undetectable genjutsu! Someone save Shikako! Or she can save herself, but, the point is Shikako needs to be saved. Hurrgh, suspense is not good for my heart.

@donapoetrypassion: Ooh- this is awesome! Is this the final one, or is there another after this? (I see how it CAN end here, but I’m so intrigued. Was she hit by Danzo’s undetectable mind-control genjutsu and has the ghost of Sai’s brother been helping her fight it? ‘Dark, then light,’ also sounds very much like a reaction similar to the one Shikako had in Yakumo’s genjutu, when Shikako just started splitting apart.) But mostly, I found the ‘killing all your friends’ imagery so creepy- whats she been doing in rl?

😀 Not to worry, Danzo does not win.

Lies Beyond The Morning is complete as is, but maybe I’ll come back to this universe? Or do a post-script type thing? Not sure of what, though, it’s just sort of my take on how Shikako might react to the Kotoamatsukami–especially given how much anti-Tsukuyomi techniques she/her family have developed (including, as you mentioned, her shadow splitting).

Thanks! I really aimed for creepy during the killing all her friends part 🙂 Luckily, what she does mentally is not reflected into reality. Actually, I’m pretty sure IRL Shikako and Danzo are just staring at each other awkwardly? Because time is wonky in mental space so probably all of the events takes place in a matter of seconds/minutes.

HOLY SHIT THAT IS SUPER CREEPY AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON BUT I LOVE IT

A/N1: Nyehehehehe…  Part Three! 😀

Also, now with title, “Lies Beyond The Morning”

~

Something is wrong.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Across the room stand three creatures, so colorful and defiant against the stark impossible room.

She doesn’t want to approach them.

They do not move and do not speak.

She doesn’t want to break them.

“What do I do now?” she asks, though she knows the not-Sai creature will not say anything.

He only smiles at her, sad and apologetic.

“Upwards and onwards,” she says, walking forward.

There is only one way to go.

If she has to spend an eternity in this strange place, she will not spend it waiting for nothing to happen.

She comes to a stop in front the three familiar creatures, not-Sai following behind her.

“I’m sorry,” she says to the creature that is not Ino, reaching out for its hands. The creature is neither warm nor cold, lifeless and empty like the room around them.

But as she pulls at its hands, its arms move. No longer is not-Ino covering its mouth.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Something has changed.

In not-Ino’s eyes pale blue eyes are a matching set of thin slit pupils.

She steps sideways, in front of the creature that is not her brother. Here, she hesitates.

Under her fingers, not-Shikamaru is lifeless and empty, neither warm nor cold. But at least he’s whole.

She doesn’t want to break him again.

Sensing her hesitation, not-Sai moves, walks around these fake Ino-Shika-Cho and stands opposite from her.

Sad and apologetic, he no longer smiles.

She pulls at not-Shikamaru’s hands, its arms moves. Not-Sai nods, silent.

No longer is the creature covering its eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she says, turning away, tears forming in her eyes.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Her cheeks are wet.

There is only one hand in her own.

Another step to the side, and not-Sai follows, an inky reflection defiant against the stark white room.

Between them stands not-Chouji, hands over its ears, face blank and empty and lifeless.

Nothing like the real Chouji.

She hasn’t broken him.

Not yet, anyway.

There is only one way to go. Upwards and onwards.

She takes its hands in hers and pulls until it is no longer covering its ears.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Nothing changes.

The silence spreads.

“I don’t understand,” she says, looking around.

There is nothing here. Not-Sai watches her, waiting.

“What do I do now?”

“Upwards and onwards,” a voice says.

Startled, Shikako springs away.

In this strange eternal place, there are only two sounds: the noise, like gears in a machine, and her own voice.

Something is happening.

“What?” she asks, glancing around. The fake Ino-Shika-Cho have not moved.

Neither has not-Sai, who stands and waits, watching.

This is different.

“Fight,” says not Chouji. But not the not-Chouji that is silent and lifeless and empty.

“Who–?” –are you–do I fight–have I forgotten–is doing this to me–

“That old fool,” the not-not-Chouji voice says, sad and apologetic.

“Fight,” it continues, as a noise, like gears in a machine, sounds off.

The doorway appears, and not-Sai walks toward it, waving her forward.

She follows. She remembers what happened in the room with not-Sakura.

But on that first starlight step, she looks back.

Ino-Shika-Cho, unmoving, broken.

“Upwards and onwards,” the voice finishes, as the doorway seals itself shut, impossible room lost to the eternal void.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Not-Sai walks ahead of her on stairs neither stone nor metal.

Something is happening. Something is wrong.

But it’s not her.

Above her the helix spirals forever, but in front they appear only a few steps ahead.

Starlight and the endless void of space.

Colorless, lifeless, silent.

It’s different, and yet…

“I’ve already been here,” she says out loud.

“This has happened to me before.”

Or near enough.

At the top step, not-Sai waits for her, sad and apologetic smile on his face.

“I understand,” she says out loud.

Not-Sai looks at her, startled.

“You’re not Sai,” she continues, catching up.

“You’re his brother.”

In front of her is an invisible wall where a doorway will appear. Beside her is a ghost.

Not-Sai… Sai’s brother fades, image changing as he does. Instead of the familiar ink dark features, she sees dimming starlight and a smile that is no longer sad or apologetic.

“Thank you,” she says as he dissipates, “Thank you for helping me this far.”

Sai’s brother nods, as kind in death as he must have been in life.

A noise, like gears in a machine.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

The doorway appears as well as the last impossible room.

She is not surprised by what she sees, the worst of it yet.

A tableau of her nightmares meant to break her and stop her and keep her trapped.

Across the room are two figures, frozen in time: mid battle, mid death blow. 

Sasuke as he might have been, Curse Seal fully bloomed across his skin. 

Naruto partially transformed, caustic red chakra cloaked around him.

Chidori against Rasengan.

These are not her teammates.

She walks toward them, neither move, as empty and lifeless as the room.

The corruption of natural chakra should claw at her skin, should burn in her lungs, but it does not.

Because none of this is real.

These empty creatures, this strange place. Impossible starlight and eternal voids. Ink and color like defiance.

Something is wrong.

Just not here. There is nothing for her here and so there is nothing here to be wrong.

Something is happening.

Out in the real world.

“Kotoamatsukami”

Shikako blinks. Light then dark.

Ask Box Three Sentence Fic, 9/? (2016-11-03)

(1 – anonymous – Shikako & Ibiki, partners in crime)

Shikako glances at the box in Ibiki’s hands, then to the still smoking pile of rubble in front of them, then back at the box.

“I mean, if you really get into the letter of the law, technically–”

“You’re twenty years too early to be lecturing me about technicalities,” Ibiki interrupts her, before doing the same glance between box and rubble, “… but, yes, this isn’t actually illegal.”

(2 – anonymous – even more 6.1, Shikako/Haku, Project Runway!AU, Haku comforting stressed out Shikako)

During the three months before Fashion Week, Haku visits Shikako’s home–it’s further south and thus hotter than his own, full of sprawling forests and rolling hills and bright sunshine. In a way, it explains a lot about his designer.

Haku enters Shikako’s work room and finds her flopped over onto a nest of fabric scraps, a line of coffee mugs standing guard: that explains the rest of his designer.

(3 – anonymous – Shikako’s alternate rise to stardom… Primadonna Girl (Says No Thank You)!AU?)

Shikako blinks away her tears, hiding her sorrow as her brother leaves, she tries to keep quiet but the sudden implacable thought hits her: this might be the last time she sees him alive.

She tries to shout, but her voice is twisted with utter dread–this is when a swell of music will be edited in to reinforce her feelings, she really hopes it’s not more My Heart Will Go On–on cue, she manages to choke out, “Shishimaru!”

“Cut!”

(4 – anonymous – Team Seven, revolution against injustice)

The Jounin Commander ends up in a coma and she knows it doesn’t compare–he’s still alive, she still has her mother–but she goes to her team, desperate and shaken.

“We’re going after Danzo,” she says, doesn’t ask, doesn’t need to ask, certainly not after she explains everything he’s done.

She used to be concerned about plausible deniability–about subtlety and staying under the radar–but what’s the point of that now?

(5 – anonymous – Shikako/??, bodyguard!AU)

Shikako Nara is the Jounin Commander’s daughter, friends with the major clan heirs, and a burgeoning fuinjutsu master. Powerful, but vulnerable.

Danzo tasks Sai with her protection–and her recruitment–but it seems he has still somehow underestimated her.

~

A/N: I realize now that keeping track of word count while doing Three Sentence Fic is counterintuitive, because the point of NaNoWriMo is to hit 50,000 words, but the point of Three Sentence Fic is to be succinct…

I mean, I’ll still do it, but now I know not to be disappointed in myself for having such a low word count–I’m literally writing at cross purposes.

Post Word Count: 322, Running Word Count: 1039

Ask Box Three Sentence Fic, 2/? (2016-10-24)

image

(1 – anonymous – Naruto/Shikako, any soulmate!AU)

Not one day after the worst of Yoshino’s life–the Kyuubi rampaging through Konoha, the eerie silence of her daughter, sitting amongst the other evacuated citizens and praying for her husband’s safety–she gets another scare.

Her gasp is quiet, but her terrified flare of chakra is sharp, and Shikaku comes running to the nursery immediately.

On the changing table is their half-dressed daughter, belly bared, a swirling array of seals painted on her skin.

image

(2 – anonymous – Shikako/Gaara, rockstar and muse!AU)

Where Temari shines bright and Kankurou builds rapport, magazines like to play up Gaara’s reputation instead, the brooding bad boy of the famous Sand Trio.

They don’t know that he’s the one that writes the songs, don’t know that the reason he’s so quiet is because the lyrics already speak for him, don’t know who it is that he’s speaking to.

He goes home to a sharp-eyed, snarky scientist who isn’t much one for the performing arts, but still inspires his music, anyway.

image

(3 – anonymous – Team Seven, midnight grocery shopping)

Konoha is a ninja village, awake at all hours, and most businesses reflect that…

… but there is still something strange about standing in a grocery store in the wee hours of the morning, as if it were a liminal space on the edge of disappearing entirely.

“You’re not going to fit, dobe,” Sasuke says, interrupting Naruto from climbing into the basket beside an already back to sleep Shikako.

There’s an awkward moment where they run into Kakashi-sensei comparing eggplants, but the three of them eventually make it back to the apartment, snacks and instant ramen in hand.

image

(4 – anonymous – Shikako/Kiba, Danzo paranoia)

She’s shaking apart, enemies hidden everywhere, traces of conspiracy and tangled webs–it’s too much, she’s so tired.

She needs something he can’t ruin, something he hasn’t already hooked his claws into, ready to tear it apart.

An arm around her shoulders, and a snout pressed along her ribs; Inuzuka are loyal, honest, and ever so dangerous to those who aren’t theirs.

image

(5 – anonymous – Nara Twins, home)

It’s little things, at first: different missions, different stories–on their birthday, he’s out of the village, the first they’ve ever been apart for.

Then it’s not so little things: secrets and snarling arguments, the room next to his repurposed for a nursery.

One day, he knows, she’ll leave entirely.

~

A/N: For the soulmate AU I went with the “whatever is drawn on your soulmate’s skin also appears on yours” because… well… doesn’t it just work?

Reshuffle the Deck: Or, Five Genin Teams Shikako Wasn’t On (2016-08-15)

Four of a Kind

(The Ino-Shika-Cho is a good combination, but it’s never good to let genin teams become predictable–it makes them vulnerable to enemy action, and considering who makes up the roster of this year’s new genin? Vulnerability is to be avoided at all cost.

The idea behind the trio is still sound, shouldn’t be abandoned completely, and so the Hokage and Academy teachers build the new teams with that in mind.

It’s not their fault that it completely throws off a good chunk of her foreknowledge.)

“This is…” Shikako says, words drifting off to look at her two teammates.

“Uh, sensei?” Ino picks up, immediately “I think you’ve gotten it wrong–it’s Ino-Shika-Cho, not Ino-Shika-Inu.”

Akamaru barks, Kiba does too. “What you’ve got a problem with dogs?” Smirk easily changeable into baring of teeth.

“Only the ones that haven’t bathed in three days,” Ino says, sharp smile of her own, “Aren’t you supposed to have a good sense of smell?”

Shikako cuts in, brings the tension down but adds to the teasing as well. “Not all of us can smell like a flower shop all the time, Ino.”

(With a steady jounin sensei and normal missions, they would have become strong, solid shinobi in a few years.

With Anko as their sensei, in a matter of months they become the first genin team with the bingo book orders Flee On Sight)

Full House [of Queens]

“They didn’t even try for subtle, did they?” Shikako asks Kurenai-sensei, mouth an opposite slant to her raised eyebrow.

Her jounin sensei shrugs, “You could argue that’s what this entire team is for–given the tenets of kunoichi and all that.”

“Don’t you think this will be fun, Shikako?” Sakura asks, stars in her eyes–the disappointment at not being on the same team as Sasuke quickly passing at the excitement of being on a team with her two best friends.

“And anyway,” Ino adds, “Who needs a bunch of boys messing up our missions?”

(Despite the tenets of kunoichi, their team does not maintain subtlety for too long. Oh, their missions succeed, no doubt about that, and they’re never actually caught; but rumors of a group of girls capable of slipping in unnoticed and completely destroying any opposition spreads.

They become known as the Three Beauties of Konoha, though mostly, all enemies can remember about them is the color of their hair and the scent of fresh flowers)

“Someone asked me to punch them today,” Sakura says to her teammates, bemused.

Although the three of them have long since been promoted from genin, they tend to team up with each other regardless. Why mess with success?

“Oh, yeah?” Shikako adds absentmindedly, writing in one of her eternally present journals even as Ino begins to pull it away, “Me, too, a couple of days ago.”

“Did you?” Sakura asks, watching in amusement as Ino and Shikako begin playing tug of war with the journal.

“Yeah, he wouldn’t leave me alone until I did and by that point he was being so annoying it was a relief to do it.”

“I made mine pay for it,” Ino says, to which both of her teammates look up at her smug face in confusion. Pulling the journal from Shikako’s slack hands is easy; her expression only becomes more pleased. “He clearly wanted it for some reason, and why do something for free when you can get paid for it?”

“And?” Sakura prompts, while Shikako bemoans her lack of initiative.

“It bought me a new dress,” Ino brags. And because she’s always a well of information, she explains to her teammates. “Apparently there’s some kind of superstition going around that if someone gets punched by all three of us they get good luck.”

Two Pair

(She pulls back too late. The teachers have already spotted her talent; genius, prodigy, legend-in-the-making they murmur to each other. She gets accelerated, graduates among students several years older than herself.

When her genin team is called, she swallows down bile.)

“Shikako-chan,” Kabuto says, mild smile on his face. All of his smiles are mild, she wants to punch him in the face.

“Yes?” She chirps back, slipping into her role of over-eager kouhai. She’ll admit he knows an awful lot of tricks that’ll be useful in the future.

Let him think he’s converting the Jounin Commander’s daughter, she’ll feed him lies and bleed him dry.

“You’re always so curious,” he says, ever so patronizing, “it’s a good thing to have in a student.”

“Well, you’re a good teacher,” she says back–always flattering, always sweet–she needs to appear as a book smart genius, not an actual threat.

“It’s not so much a virtue when it comes to espionage,” Kabuto amends, voice still pleasant but suddenly sharp and deadly.

She can feel the blood freeze in her veins. Literally.

“W-what are you talking about, Kabuto-senpai?” she chokes out through the clawing in her throat, her rapidly stiffening lungs.

“Don’t worry,” he says as her vision goes blurry, then dark, “It’s time for you to get a real teacher.”

(When she wakes up, she’s almost relieved to see Orochimaru’s face.

Better him than Danzo, she thinks even as the abomination of mutated natural chakra burns through her. The Curse Seal.

Kabuto won’t need to convert her if a piece of Orochimaru is literally looking over her shoulder.)

Straight

The night of graduation, Shikako faints while walking up the stairs.

It’s also the first time the Kyuubi’s malevolent chakra has been felt in over a decade.

The two events are not unrelated.

Needless to say, Shikaku will not be having his daughter on the same team as someone whose chakra can render her unconscious. He knows the Academy teachers think he is just pulling rank, getting his child off a team with That Monster, but Shikaku’s always been more practical than that: it’d be like having someone allergic to dogs on the same team as an Inuzuka, illogical and troublesome.

And anyway, he remembers Kushina and Mito-sama before that, neither of them were monsters. How could their legacy ever be one?

(Shikako looks at her teammates and feels nothing but conflicted, guilty relief.

A part of her had wanted to be on a more integral team, to better alter the course of future events. But another part of her had always been afraid of taking on such a daunting task.

Better to be on a team with these two–childhood bullies though they may be–than, god forbid, Naruto and Sasuke. She’d constantly be in the crossfire of powerhouses, pushed further and further to a breaking point that she doesn’t know where it will lead.

Jiro and Youbirin are blank slates as far as she’s concerned. She doesn’t need to worry about them, doesn’t need to watch over their destinies. They could die for all she knows, and plotwise it’d still lead to a good ending.)

“Fuck!” She shouts, turning to her fallen teammate who has crumpled to the forest floor. Youbirin gives a bloody cough in response, hands shakily going for the sword through his chest. “Jiro get over here!”

“I’m a little busy!” He shouts back, sending a bolt of lightning towards his opponent before retreating. They’re fighting Rock nin, with an Earth Pillar it becomes useless.

“I can’t heal this on my own,” Shikako says, hands futilely glowing green anyway. “Why would you do that? You could probably heal something like this.”

Youbirin gives another wet cough.

“Don’t die, please,” she begs, “You matter to me, don’t die, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, don’t die, don’t die,” she chants, hoping and pushing herself to her limits.

That’s the problem with genin teammates–they’ll always be important, no matter who they are.

Royal Flush

(On the one hand, traveling through time to meet the Nidaime Hokage is pretty cool. Getting to compare fuinjutsu notes with him is practically a dream come true.

Somehow being stuck randomly appearing at various points in his life? She’d rather not.

But, well, there’s a silver lining to everything.

She just has to find this one.)

Team Tobirama is a seven person team.

Except for when it’s an eight person team.

Tobirama-sensei only briefly introduces the girl before they’re off on what will undoubtedly be a difficult mission.

Cloud shinobi. It won’t be anything but difficult.

She’s a stranger and it shows, their team falling into the familiar grouping–Kagami, Danzo, Torifu and Hiruzen, Homura, Koharu–while sensei single-handedly destroys his own opponents. It leaves her alone, and for a moment Kagami worries, before he realizes that she’s holding her own.

More than, even.

(The Kinkaku Force should have overpowered them, forced the genin to flee while their sensei sacrifices himself.

Eight instead of seven.

Nobody dies that day. The hat does not get passed on quite yet)

She’s not a permanent member of their team, which confuses Kagami because as far as he can tell she’s not on any other team either.

“I don’t recognize her,” Torifu says in a hush, which is especially worrying. It’s not an admission, it’s a clue: if Torifu can’t recognize someone wearing Nara sigils, something is going on.

“She keeps staring at me,” Danzo adds, before his face flushes with a sudden realization, “Not–not like that!” he says, embarrassed, while Kagami and Torifu share a smirk.

“She is rather pretty,” Kagami teases, Torifu nodding in solemn agreement, because an opportunity to fluster Danzo is always something to take advantage of. And besides, it’s not as if they don’t trust her–Tobirama-sensei trusts her, and more besides she’s risked her life alongside them–but this is a mystery that needs solving.

(They never do figure it out.)

~

A/N: A little late but still respectable, I think. Also it’s not really my fault since tumblr appears to be having technical trouble–is that everyone or is it just me? I do have somewhat sporadic wi-fi right now.

I’ll try to meet the midnight deadline properly tonight, anyway.

So the first two are from a conversation I had with @unfortunatehatlessness, the third one was just a haunting idea I had–though, highly influenced by @donapoetrypassion’s In Which Someone Attempts To Kidnap Shikamaru, Instead. Fourth is the anonymously prompted AU of @kuipernebula’s and mine Team Medic!AU (uh, sorry for the bleak ending on that one, it works out okay in the end?) And fifth is kiiinda a response to Linnypants’ comment on ao3 about Shikako’s POV of my Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic ficlet.

Wow, okay, that’s a pretty impressive sweep if I do say so myself 😀 Also, happy belated birthday to myself.

I’ll post this to ao3 in a bit

(In)Difference (2016-06-26)

(Five Teachers Kiyoshi Might Have Had)

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Shimura Danzo.

Kiyoshi tries not to scream.

She manages to hold off until she is alone, at home, a pillow pressed over her face.

Her parents think it is excitement and nerves and, well, they’re not wrong exactly.

Because any hope of not being tangled up in the story of Konoha to be has been irrevocably shot.

She’s not entirely sure what to do–just knows that she won’t stand idly by as Shimura Danzo twists Konoha on itself.

Maybe she’ll stop him or maybe she’ll help him or maybe she’ll usurp him entirely.

But she needs must do something–either that, or she’ll die trying–and isn’t that just the absolute worst of it.

~

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Uchiha Kagami.

Kiyoshi doesn’t hide her confusion.

Mostly because… it doesn’t make any sense and she doesn’t know what else to feel otherwise.

An Uchiha? She doesn’t even know which Uchiha this is–if he’s at all related to the specific Uchiha that will come later.

Doesn’t know if he’ll have children and grandchildren, if he’ll live to see Itachi or Obito kill him or if he’ll be dead long before that.

What is she supposed to do? Can she do anything?

Well, at the very least, she can get accustomed to how the Sharingan works. Just in case.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Mitokado Homura.

Kiyoshi treads lightly.

She doesn’t know much about him–just that he was the Hokage’s teammate, held a place on the Council, and at some point will fall prey to Danzo whether by Sharingan or just normal human manipulation.

Either way, it’s a precarious situation. She’s not sure how any of her actions may change the future–if it will at all. For all she knows, this was meant to be and nothing she does will change anything.

For now, she’ll watch and wait. It’s what her sensei would advise, after all.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Utatane Koharu.

Kiyoshi smiles, bright and sharp.

She’s met Koharu before, during the special club from kunoichi classes. Nae-chan.

Koharu was never a Nae-chan–too noticeably skilled and part of the Utatane clan on top of that–but she had been the only kunoichi on Team Tobirama. The only kunoichi on the Sandaime Hokage’s Council, and Mito-sama’s (the Nae-chan program’s) connection to legitimacy.

She almost wants to cry because maybe this is a sign–some kind path already forged that won’t make her leave her dreams behind.

Maybe Kiyoshi will never be a Nae-chan, but she can still help, still be a part of it.

She’s not alone.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Akimichi Torifu.

Kiyoshi gives a quiet sigh of relief.

Given the jounin sensei for the other genin team in their year, she had feared the worst. But Akimichi Torifu is still a respectable choice–more than, actually, given who the genin are.

Minor clans at best, and none of them particularly prestigious at that. But the Akimichi have always been the most open of the four Noble clans, and it actually makes sense in a way.

They are no Ino-Shika-Cho, not yet–three strangers put on a team and told to risk their lives together–but if anyone could get them near to it, it would be an Akimichi.

She’s not afraid.

~

A/N: I kinda just wanted to go through potential jounin sensei for my (In)Difference team and figure out which I like best. Since I think best when I articulate by yelling or writing, I figured I ought to at least get a post out of it.

I’m leaning most towards Akimichi Torifu just because I don’t really want to plunge Kiyoshi headfirst into “does fate determine my actions” existential crisis right away and I can probably finagle the others into appearing one way or another. Also considering Homura and Kagami…

I really don’t want her to end up as Danzo’s student. And given what I have written for Koharu, she’ll have a role in the story regardless? I dunno…

Hail To The Queen: Or, Some Ways Shikako Never Became The Hokage, 3/? (2016-06-20)

(three: she who seizes the throne)

“This is not a story.”

She thinks of her brother, missing one arm. She thinks of her best friend, eyes split through with a pupil like cracked glass.

She looks at her own scars, the skin thick and unfeeling, marking out her just-barely-made-it survival.

Sasuke, she has kept in Konoha, sure. But for how long?

How long until reality exerts itself once more on this fragile fairy tale existence?

Cloud is threatening war. Dawn is on the horizon. The moon waxes fuller.

There are things lurking in Konoha’s shadows, things Tsunade will not be able to heal. Nor Kakashi fend off. Nor Naruto redeem.

They don’t know what they’re up against. They won’t know how to handle it.

“This is reality.”

Once, when they were young men in their prime, Hiruzen Sarutobi was given the title “God of Shinobi.”

A lofty reputation, to be sure, but one that he would live up to.

In contrast, Danzo received the monicker “Shinobi of Darkness” and no one ever knew how fully he embodied it until someone rips it from his hands.

It takes a Nara to properly control the shadows.

The world doesn’t stop just because Naruto leaves for three years. It keeps going: training and missions and injuries and kills.

Shikabane-hime. The Corpse Princess.

Not something her sunny-eyed idealist absentee teammate would appreciate, but Shikako has always been a pragmatist.

There is power in names.

The last Sealing Master Konoha had was a bright-eyed orphan prodigy who damn near wore his skills and his heart on his sleeve. The Yellow Flash, flee-on-sight, who burned out like a firework far before his time.

Danzo would never be threatened by someone like that.

But she is one of many Nara–intelligent, yes, but sleepy-eyed and lazy. Unambitious. A silly girl who holds meetings with other kunoichi to discuss healing techniques and who plays games with children.

No, Danzo sees no threat there either.

In his arrogance, he’s forgotten the first rule of shinobi: to look underneath the underneath.

She doesn’t start with Sai.

No, that would be dangerous; too obvious.

In this game he is one of her silver generals, though he doesn’t know it yet. She cannot afford to play him too early on.

But she knows what his seal feels like, has been trained to spot the smallest anomalies in chakra.

She can find pawns easily enough.

Ones that are more… expendable.

No matter how many games she played against Naruto–no matter how quick his learning curve–he has never won a game of shogi against Shikako.

Oh, the clones are eager enough to suggest moves, willing to sacrifice themselves to the cause. They are Naruto, and he will always try to throw himself in front of a killing blow meant for someone else. But as a player–as the King–he never could give the orders.

She’s seen it before, he doesn’t have what it takes. Wants to save everyone, but doesn’t know how to go about it. An impractical, impossible dream.

He is a strong shinobi–will undoubtedly become the strongest–and charming in his own way.

But leadership requires more than that.

It is one thing to offer an already hesitating child alternate options, then convince him to choose one that benefits you both. It’s another thing entirely to tell a brainwashed soldier to turn on his master and obey you instead.

Some matters require a gentler touch. The Yamanaka would know all about that.

Fu has always been a bit of a conundrum to her–unlike the Nara, the Yamanaka clan’s abilities are a blood limit. To extend their consciousness beyond their bodies and control someone else with it? It’s not something that just anyone can do. But it’s also a skill that needs to be honed, techniques that need to be taught.

Fu knows Yamanaka clan techniques, understands it enough to develop variants.

Danzo let Fu Yamanaka keep his name for a reason.

There is power in names.

Power she will gladly take for herself.

Ironically, ANBU is the safest place Sasuke can be right now. He’s too busy training to stumble upon certain secrets better left in the dark. Secrets that soon will be hers to handle.

Which is just as well. Sasuke is not her king, but he is a very important piece and she can’t risk losing him quite yet.

Just in case, though, she makes sure she has frequent training sessions with him. If he ends up with another seal on him, she’ll know immediately, and adapt accordingly.

She has to trust that Jiraiya is taking good care of her other gold general.

If Fu Yamanaka is one of Danzo’s gold generals, then Torune Aburame is the other.

And as soon as she gets the former, the latter is halfway hers.

Kakashi-sensei catches on surprisingly quickly, considering he’s not often around to witness her side project. But, then again, he’s always been unfairly perceptive when it comes to secrets not his own.

He doesn’t stop her–not that he could; not without putting her in danger. And if there’s one fear the legendary jounin Sharingan no Kakashi has, it’s this: being the cause of one of his precious people’s downfall.

Which, in other words, means failing to protect one of his precious people.

No, Kakashi-sensei won’t stop her. Which means he can be of use.

The drop rule is unique to shogi, something which had originally tripped her up; mind more familiar with Western chess before she learned the ways of the Nara clan.

It goes as thus: a captured piece can be brought back into play under the capturing player’s control on any turn in any empty square.

In this game, all of the pieces started off as Danzo’s.

But that is not to say some of them haven’t already been captured and dropped before she even began playing.

Yamato or Tenzo or Kinoe, no matter: he makes a decent knight.

This is not the kind of undertaking that one can rush, nor would she want to.

When Naruto returns, she is still in play. Still enacting moves even as she helps deal with the more obvious threats to Konoha.

But this was always going to be a long game, and while she’s not naturally patient, she’s always been pretty talented at seeing three steps ahead of her opponents.

Let Danzo think he stands alone in the dark, the only wielder of light in his underground kingdom. He’ll ruin his vision, and fail to see her before it’s too late.

And anyway, a real shinobi of darkness wouldn’t need a light.

Wouldn’t want it, either.

Tsunade steps down, never really wanting the position in the first place. Eager to pass the responsibilities and memories on to someone else.

Kakashi, too, is a placeholder–keeping it safe for his student. Ostensibly, the choice is obvious; though within the privacy of his own mind he’s never quite sure which one.

When it comes time for Konoha’s Nanadaime to be chosen, he hesitates. Not for long, not noticeable for anyone to see, but just enough.

Enough for Shikako to nod her head and smile.

A hat and robes. Everyone knowing your name and face. Watching every action, no secrets or shadows allowed. Who would want that?

Look underneath the underneath.

Let Naruto play at being king. Shikamaru is Jounin Commander. Sasuke, Head of ANBU. Her friends and allies all fall into place: chiefs and department heads and commanders. Generals, knights, lances, bishops, and rooks.

Why be the king–a mere piece on the board–when she can be the queen playing instead?

~

A/N: This one’s for @tenderwenders who wanted the line “All shadows bow to my will.” And… well, even though I didn’t manage to fit the exact words, this was highly inspired by it so…

I guess, technically, this isn’t Hokage!Shikako, but the spirit of it still counts? Yeah?

I wanted to emphasize more on the parallels between Sandaime vs Danzo and Naruto vs Shikako as the “God of Shinobi” vs “Shinobi of Darkness” but then it all became this giant shogi metaphor and then I couldn’t pull myself back on track. So it’s this weird mash up of both…

God, I felt so devious when writing this! Like, Shikako’s cunning and ruthlessness cranked up to the max is just so frightening.

Dropped Off Stitches (On The Loom Of Fate), (2016-05-17)

The first is a daughter born to the Uchiha in a time of warring clans. She is constantly crying and inconsolable, fussy even in Izuna’s arms–though it’s almost as if she tries to be on her best behavior for him. And on her worst for her other older brother.

No matter. She is a liability–she cannot become a future bride, much less a kunoichi if she does not live beyond infancy. The Uchiha has lost children before, ones far less unruly at that.

Left behind when her clan changes camp, Uchiha Hiromi does not live to see her third birthday.

(It’s unfortunate, but not terrible. She didn’t grow too attached this new family of hers, though she’ll mourn Izuna for showing her even a shred of kindness in this snippet of a life.

She didn’t finish Shippuden, so she wouldn’t have known what to change, anyway.)

The second, ironically, is a Senju, son of Hashirama and Mito, and an embarrassment to the family. Can you imagine? A Senju-Uzumaki child who cannot use chakra, can never become a shinobi. Luckily, he is not the first son and he’s a quick learner. Perhaps he can focus on fuinjutsu instead–a respectable calling, one that only requires the amount of chakra in living creatures.

Surprisingly, Tobirama is fond of him, for all his inadequacy as a warrior, but Tobirama was always more than just a warrior, too. Lawmaker, architect, seal master, inventor–a non-chakra legacy to be passed down from uncle to nephew.

It doesn’t hurt that Wataru is as suspicious of the Uchiha as he is.

(He dies again, from an illness that would make even a shinobi stumble and he without a chakra-enhanced immune system to fight it. He doesn’t even get to see his niece be born.

Some of his seals are life-changing, but not world-changing, and so they are not enough.)

The third is conflicted, always. Dead as an adult from relatively peaceful causes, born into a world that expects her to be a child soldier and kill other child soldiers. She thinks it will be difficult until she realizes when and where she was born. Who her brother is.

Surely Danzo will not expect an attack from his sickly sister, and wouldn’t the world be better without him? The first few attempts are so lousy that he doesn’t even register them as threats, and certainly not from her.

But as she improves, so does he, and he is a parallel path that Kanetsugu can never catch up to.

(The last thing she sees is her brother’s face as he kills her, tears dripping down his young, unlined cheeks.

Her last thought is horrifying: that perhaps she was the one that turned him into that delusional sociopath.)

Babies are born and die all the time, screaming and crying constantly. Some of them may have too intelligent gleams in their eyes, but surely that’s just a trick of the light.

The fourth might not actually be the fourth, it’s not like they know each other as such yet, but she is born in Konoha and to a clan at that. Surprisingly, it’s not her condition that prevents her from becoming a shinobi but rather her clan’s sickening practice of mutilating their children and stuffing them full of creepy crawlies.

She’s being unfair, she knows. It’s a bigoted view on what is an entirely consensual and symbiotic way of life. The Aburame don’t force children into becoming hosts and, actually, it would be a neat and logical solution to her condition.

But she just can’t shake the fear and disgust; Kamakiri wants her body–however ill-suited to this world–to be only hers.

(It hurts to breathe and it hurts to move, but she will pass through this life the same way she did her last–completely and utterly herself.

She’s in a lull of the timeline, anyway, there’s nothing that needs fixing now.)

Occasionally, the condition crops up again–in clan children and civilian children, randomly with no clear connection. One enterprising medic tries to make a study of it, but it is a project swiftly abandoned in favor of more important things.

They do not become ninja, these few individuals. The pain is too great, the need too little, but they do the best they can to improve things. Helping hands and listening ears and, sometimes, warnings disguised as advice though most of the time it’s hardly ever heeded.

It would be hypocritical for Hatake Kaju to convince his brother to leave people behind. Ichiraku Emi was never sure if she should tell a young Kushina to avoid a certain blonde. Shosho was already an old man when little baby TenTen appeared in the orphanage he ran, dead before she ever got to the Academy.

They are ripples against the current, quickly overpowered by the waves. But all of them hold out hope that maybe something can change.

Kamino Hoshi is an unmarried man with no family, one functional leg, and a small shop that sells the staples of ninja hood–kunai, soldier pills, etc.– he’s the only store that will charge Naruto market price, which is better than the others’ horrible markups, but which stings terribly in his heart. He has to make a living somehow, and eventually Naruto will learn that the best weapon in his arsenal is himself.

But that is not the most important thing right now. No, it is the twelve year old girl with brown hair instead of pink, wearing green instead of red, idly browsing through his store as she waits for her genin teammate.

A girl born with chakra hypersensitivity who went on to become a shinobi despite it. A girl who, just like him, shouldn’t exist.

A girl who can change the world.

~

A/N:… ahahaha, what the hell, no one even asked for this, but here you go. This definitely will not be continued because it’s pretty self-contained. Also, kinda horrifying and bleak especially in the beginning so…

Anyway, inspired by Silver Queen’s Reincarnation Roulette and my own throw away comment from this rant about all chakra hypersensitive people all having been reincarnated from our world.

Sorry about how shoddy it is, I’m very tired and spent all day yesterday traveling and the three days before that with my entire family so… super drained.

edit: now on ao3 as part of the Dreaming One Shots collection here